Poas Volcano National Park houses one of the more popular volcanoes in Costa Rica—a telling superlative for a country with world-famous geothermal activity. But with its spectacular wildlife, informative museum, and variety of hiking trails, the accolade comes as no surprise.
Poas Volcano makes for a thrilling day-trip destination from San Jose, as tours regularly depart from the city for the volcano and often combine a visit with other popular Costa Rica activities such as white-water rafting, coffee plantation tours, or a stop at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
Though a thick cloud forest and scenic vistas line the way up Poas Volcano, the crater steals the show. Poas Volcano’s mile-long (1.6-kilometer-long) crater is filled with the deep, rain-fed Botos Lagoon and dotted with smoking fumaroles—a view most will find accessible from the paved, 0.3-mile (half-kilometer) trail leading there from the visitors' center. Two slightly longer hikes offer incredible opportunities to spot wildlife like hummingbirds, wildflowers, and the elusive quetzal.
Things to Know Before You Go
Dress in layers and for rain, as it can be cold and wet near the crater.
Visiting time is limited to 10 minutes at the crater.
The visitors' center is wheelchair accessible.
On-site facilities include parking, picnic tables, restrooms, and a cafe with some food options.
How to Get There
The easiest way to visit Poas Volcano is as part of a guided day tour. The park is also accessible with private transportation. Bus services to Alajuela are sparse.
When to Get There
Get the best views when you visit early in the day during the dry season (December through April). Clouds typically roll in around noon, and many of the park’s facilities close by 3pm.